Parkland Massacre Ruling Bolsters Case for Gun Reform

By Mitchell Gunter

In the wake of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that killed a total of 17 students and staff, 15 students swiftly filed a lawsuit against numerous parties including school resource officer Scot Peterson, who notably appeared to cower outside while the shooting took place.

At the heart of the case, the students argued that Broward County, the sheriff, the school superintendent, and ultimately Peterson had failed in their duty to provide students protection during the shooting.

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However, on December 12, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom dismissed the lawsuit, once again confirming the longstanding legal precedent that police have no federal or constitutional duty to protect American citizens, writing, “For such a duty to exist on the part of defendants, plaintiffs would have to be considered to be in custody.”

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Judge Bloom’s latest ruling may be surprising, even shocking for many who wrongfully assume the right to police protection, and further underscores the need for reforms to established gun laws in order to allow students, parents, teachers, and professors to assume control over their own protection by fully exercising their second amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

In fact, while it seems most police officers strive to uphold the mantra of “To Protect and to Serve,” case law dating back to the 1960s has gone so far as to determine that police officers are under no obligation to respond to calls for help, even in the direst circumstances.

In 1989, the landmark outcome of DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services definitively determined that while the State or its agents cannot arbitrarily deprive Americans of life, liberty, and property under the Due Process Clause, the State is not obligated to provide protection to the general public from other, non-governmental actors.

Essentially, this means that while ordinary American citizens have no right to governmental protective services, the State must protect individuals in its custody, such as prisoners and mental patients who cannot protect themselves.

Clearly, the Founding Fathers intended the citizens of this great nation to defend themselves in the glaring absence of the State, and theoretically, the Second Amendment, as it was written, provides the means for us to do so. Nonetheless, the Second Amendment, like many of our rights today, has been throttled over time by those with the best—and worst—of intentions.

Especially vulnerable in this extra-Constitutional day and age are the future leaders of our nation and those who facilitate their growth—students and teachers. According to BBC News, 113 people were killed or injured as a result of school shootings in the U.S. in 2018 alone.

Although law enforcement officers strive, serve, and sacrifice for the public daily, it does not dishonor the profession to acknowledge that the police are not an omnipresent force. In a worst-case scenario such as the Parkland massacre, the police could be minutes away when seconds count the most.

Therefore, it is critical that responsible parties, such as teachers in primary and secondary education, and students and professors at colleges and universities, are not deprived of their ability to protect themselves, their students, and their peers when on school property.

States across the nation are starting to wake up to the merits of allowing the Second Amendment back on campus. Currently, 14 states allow the arming of teachers on school property, while 16 states allow school boards to decide the issue for themselves, and pending legislation to arm teachers has been seen in numerous other states.

Every day educators and students of age are denied their Second Amendment rights is another day campuses across the nation remain vulnerable. While many states still refuse to acknowledge the absurdity of their gun laws on the books, a safer future for our children is on the horizon for states that take the Constitution at face value.

Mitchell Gunter (@rMitchellGunter) is a freelance journalist and political commentator, and an alumnus of Clemson University.

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